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Vanishing peacocks

Wild flocks of peacocks and guinea hens that lived peacefully as neighborhood pets for years in the Boulder Street area of Nevada City have mysteriously disappeared in the past year.

Some residents suspect the birds have been deliberately targeted.

Once numbering as many as 25, the noisome avians have been reduced to one shabby peacock with no tail feathers and one lonely guinea hen, according to Ellen del Valle, of Nevada City, who lives on Boulder Street.



“This is the first year they just disappeared,” said del Valle, who occasionally has fed the roaming flock cat chow and cracked corn since she moved to the street a decade ago.

Recently, a male peacock was injured when it was hit by a car. It is now recovering with a broken foot, which didn’t set right, at the home of Francie Waller, a Blue Canyon resident and volunteer for the animal rescue group Wildlife Rehab and Release.




Del Valle said she witnessed a deliberate attempt at vehicular birdslaughter earlier this year.

After slowing down to let the peacocks cross the road, a driver sped up and hit the bird, del Valle said.

“They were kind of gunning them up in their sights,” del Valle said.

“I think it was sport to see if they could hit them in the street,” added Julie Bramkamp, who has lived on Boulder Street for 50 years and can remember the birds cruising the area for at least 14 years. Bramkamp believes the birds are offspring of those kept by a doctor who once lived in the area, she said.

“He had lots of strange animals running around,” Bramkamp added.

About a year ago, a letter began circulating in the neighborhood from a resident complaining about the birds known for their eerie, screeching calls.

“I’ve got a couple calls from people (who said), ‘Can you come out and trap these animals because we don’t want them anymore,'” said Janey Powers, of Wildlife Rehab and Release.

Another neighbor began complaining that the birds and their droppings, left on front porches, lowered property values, del Valle said.

“There were obviously a few people who didn’t want them around,” del Valle said.

Since then, the birds numbers have dwindled.

“That’s why I think it’s intentional,” del Valle said. “There’s a way to round them up and find them a safe home. You don’t just start picking them off and hunting them.”

Meanwhile, the injured peacock is in good condition, hopping around in an outdoor, fenced pen shared with Canada geese in Waller’s backyard.

“He’s a lot spunkier. Today, he tried to fly. The ultimate goal is to release (the peacock) back into the wild. If he’s not able to be released, we try to find the safest place for him to be,” Waller said.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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